7/19/2012 10:53:00 AM

The 5 Best Places for Tex-Mex in the Austin Area

It's no shock that our recently published Texas Restaurant guide features a list of the best Tex-Mex in the state. Leave it to these top five eateries to serve you up a plate of down-home cookin' while you sip a salted margarita. Is your favorite joint missing from the list? Let us know where you get your queso fix in the comments.

Food: 21
Decor: 23
Service: 22
Cost: $23
“Affordable”, “unique” Tex-Mex dishes, numerous tequilas and “fun people-watching” are the hallmarks of this Austin-area duo in Cherrywood and Cedar Park; the “unique” decor featuring sexy nude paintings is definitely “PG-13”, while happy-hour deals and DJs on weekends are other ‘adult’ enticements.

2015 Manor Rd.; 512-482-0300

Food: 21
Decor: 20
Service: 20
Cost: $19
This longtime “Austin classic” chain “still rocks” say fans of its “tasty” Tex-Mex eats, “killer margaritas” and overall “funky”, “convivial” atmosphere with decor that’s a veritable “shrine to Elvis”; you get “a lot of fun for the money” and “generations of students have lived on the free chips and salsa while waiting for a table”, but even so, some say it “lives off nostalgia”, claiming the food’s only “ok” and the “main draw is the scene.”

10520 N. Lamar Blvd.; 512-836-3218

Matt's El Rancho
Food: 21
Decor: 18
Service: 21
Cost: $22
“A Friday night tradition for many Austin families”, this “old-time” Tex-Mexer on South Lamar has been “drawing crowds” with “solid” grub since 1952; sure, the service can be “a bit Texas slow”, but budget bills and a “bustling” atmosphere compensate; P.S. “the Bob Armstrong dip is not to be missed.”

2613 S. Lamar Blvd.; 512-462-9333

Food: 20
Decor: 17
Service: 19
Cost: $21
“Students”, “vegetarians” and other assorted Austinites “jump-start [their] weekend” with “migas and margaritas” at this Tex-Mex mini-chain, a “brunch mainstay” and ground zero for “weekend hangover recovery” for years; reasonable prices mean these “casual” spots “fill up fast”, so “get there early” or prepare to wait.

409 W. 30th St.; 512-477-2935

Hula Hut
Food: 18
Decor: 23
Service: 18
Cost: $22
“A mix of Tex-Mex and Polynesian cuisines” plus “strong mixed drinks” characterize this Old West Austin “classic” set “right on the lake” with “awesome views” for out-of-towners; critics call the food “forgettable”, although sitting on the deck and “sipping a cold beer while watching the boaters” is “one of the best ways to kill a Friday afternoon.”

3825 Lake Austin Blvd.; 512-476-4852


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